Sloane Stephens

The 2017 US Open winner Sloane Stephens overcame the 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in a thrilling first-round match at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers on Monday.

After being up 6-2, 5-1, Stephens required 90 minutes and two weather delays to win 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5. The entire match lasted three hours and fifteen minutes. Former World No. 4 and No. 3 in the WTA rankings, respectively.

Kenin and Stephens have taken quite different paths to Toronto this week. Kevin, who is now ranked outside of the top 400, returned to the Hologic WTA Tour last week in Washington

D.C. after more than four months out due to an ankle injury, was entered into the WTA 1000 event on an injury-protected entry. After losing in the quarterfinals to Coco Gauff at Roland Garros in June, Stephens’ ranking dropped to 59 and she went on a losing run of four matches.

Within an hour, Stephens had taken a 6-2, 5-1 lead over Kenin. Then things started to get complicated. At that point, things became more intricate. Kevin fought off two match points to maintain her serve in the seventh game.

Sloane Stephens

then another two in the eighth game, before finally breaking Stephens on her fourth opportunity in the ninth game. After a hold to 30, Kenin evened the score with a winning forehand return and a break at 5-5.

Over the course of the match, Kenin won five games in a row and was within two points of winning the second set. Even though Stephens kept his serve going from 0-30 to force a tiebreak, the younger American was not to be denied. She forced a third set by winning four of the final five points in the tiebreaker.

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Later in the deciding set, the players dealt with not one but two rain delays. Two of them occurred just after Stephens held serve in the first game, and the other occurred when she was up 2-0 and serving for the match at 3-0.

Stephens once more took a commanding 5-2 advantage, only to almost relinquish it. As Kenin fought off five match points to hold for 5-5, she dropped the next three games and faced 15-30 on her serve. However, from that point on, Stephens was able to finish out the match by winning seven of the final eight points.

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On the first day of the main draw competition at the WTA 1000, Kenin and Stephens were two of seven Grand Slam winners to take the court. Winners in the day session included Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, two-time major winner Simona Halep, and 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams.

Williams beat Nuria Parrizas Diaz of Spain 6-4, 6-3 in their first hard-court competition since the 2021 Australian Open. Things aren’t going to get much easier for Stephens in the near future. Maria Sakkari of Greece seeded third, is up next. They have never played as well.

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